Creepy, crawly, clever American Horror Story doesn’t have a problem garnering positive responses – Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s FX show has snapped up plenty of critical accolades (including thirty-four Emmy nominations over just two years in categories that run the gamut, from Outstanding Miniseries or Movie to Outstanding Main Title Design, winning four awards along the way) and posting ratings that are some of the network’s very best. It’s a bonafide hit that attracts both a dedicated fanbase and a wonderful string of actual talent. The show uses a nifty technique – call it a miniseries and change things up every season! – that guarantees that it will be at least different, if not totally reinvigorated, with every season.
And yet, knowing all of that, I’ve never been able to be interested in American Horror Story in the slightest. Call it fallout from my disdain for Glee, chalk it up to a first season plotline that sounded absolutely tired (a haunted house story? Please), blame it on a natural aversion to people in rubber suits, but I jumped off the AHS ship before that thing even left the dock and I haven’t looked back. At least until the series’ third season, Coven, started rolling out some of the most incredible, horrifying, gorgeous, and mind-bending commercials ever to play on a television network (yes, we can pause for a minute so that you AHS fans can berate me for not feeling the same way about the previous two seasons’ commercials).
The network has so far released thirteen amazing commercials for the show – brief bits of absolute madness that fully accomplish their job: I want to watch American Horror Story: Coven right now. I am anticipating it with extreme fervor. I have its premiere date written down in actual ink. But there’s one thing keeping my excitement just slightly at bay – there doesn’t seem to be much chance that the final product will be as good as these commercials, simply because the shorter the spot, the more intriguing they seem.
The longer form commercials, like “Initiation” and “WitchWalk,” and the more traditional sports, like “Burn,” aren’t nearly as effective as the quick, creepy slices. The bits that work, and work terrifyingly well, are commercials that rely much more on mood, tone, and feeling, over a sense of “plot” or actual structure – commercials like “Laveau,” “Detention,” “Coffin,” “Staircase,” “Slither,” and “Study Hall.” If it’s less than fifteen seconds, it’s solid – start introducing actual characters and potential plot points, and the shine is off. Perhaps even with my newfound commercial admiration, AHS will still never be the actual show for me.
Take a look at all of American Horror Story: Coven’s currently released commercials and spots below. What do you think?
“Pins & Needles”